Category Archives: Writing

#RRBC BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY!

 

Hi and WELCOME to Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY at THE INDIE SPOT!  Location: MICHIGAN.

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Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today:

GIVEAWAYS ARE CLOSED!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS: Mae Clair, Rob Kimbrell, Mary Schmidt, and Jerry Marquardt.

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Number of Winners for this stop: 4

I decided to have a little fun with this Book & Blog Block Party stop. In the years since Jazz Baby first saw publication, some readers have been curious as to what happened to Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten. Did she ever make it to New York? Were her dreams of singing jazz professionally ever realized? Did she find success? Well, presented here, is an interview with Baby Teegarten, which takes place ten years after the novel ends. This is meant to be a glimpse into the life our protagonist may have created for herself.

The Baby Teegarten Interview!

 April 15, 1935

She chose the meeting place. I could lie and tell you readers that I arrived thirty minutes early just to get a feel for the room. But the truth of the matter is, I get a little nervous with this one. Most of you have been reading my column for the better part of 15 years. You know the names that have graced my page: Babe Ruth, Harry Houdini, Clara Bow, Harold Lloyd—even Charlie Chaplin agreed to a sit-down chat back in 1924.

Still, this one is different.

The she I’m referring to is popular jazz vocalist Baby Teegarten. They don’t come any bigger than Baby these days. Three consecutive years as the country’s highest-paid entertainer proves this fact.

I lock down a table at the rear of McSorley’s Tavern on East 7th Street—which also happens to hold a strict policy for not allowing women inside.

But Baby Teegarten, well, she’s not just any woman.

“This is her neighborhood,” the fellow tending bar tells me. “She has a swanky place overlooking Central Park. Bought it from Babe Ruth himself.”

It’s the Babe who introduced Baby to McSorley’s.

“Nobody bothers her in here,” the barkeep explains. “Besides, if she’s pals with the Babe, she’s all right by us.”

I knock back a Scotch and soda. It’s what steadies my nerves. Only Mae West ever had me taking a nip before an interview.

I’ve seen Baby perform a dozen times easily—this going back to those first shows she did at Swelby’s Joint. Two thousand patrons lined up every night just to witness the Baby. She’d been just shy of her fourteenth birthday back in those early shows. But any fool with eyes and ears could tell she was special.

Oh, sure, we all recall the backlash at allowing a mere child up on those club stages. But nobody could—or would—stand in that girl’s way. No, sir. She’d have busted any full-grown man in the chops, should one be so bold as to try.

Prompt, this one. She arrives at 3 o’clock sharp, with her entourage in tow. By entourage I mean her manager, Abe Horowitz, and Job Pritchett, husband of Baby.

Mr. Pritchett, he’s a large fellow, to be sure. Tall and wide; real sturdy; the sort of man who likely spent his youth throwing bales of hay around the farm, maybe even punching cows—literally. Hollywood handsome: blond hair worn messy, pale blue eyes, an easy laugh. He’s more threatening than threatened. Famous in his own right, he’s known the world over for his paintings and sculptures.

Baby is a true vision, greeting patrons by name up by the front door. She’s resplendent in a violet-colored summer dress that falls just below her knees. Diamonds sparkle on her fingers and wrists, her ears, at her delicate throat. There’s even a gold bracelet on her right ankle.

Eyes as green as emeralds track me down in my corner.

There’s a subtle sweetness in her scent.

Lilacs.

“Hey, there,” she says. “I’m supposed to talk with you today?”

I’m lost for words in this moment, so I just nod like a mute fool.

“You don’t mind it here, do you?” Her accent is rich, wrapping her every word in a southern twang thicker than molasses—and just as sweet.

My voice carries a slight tremble, but I manage a quick, “No, ma’am.”

Baby Teegarten settles on a bar stool next to mine. “This is Mister Pritchett, my husband,” she says.

Job Pritchett’s massive hand takes mine with a gentle squeeze. “Good to meet you,” he tells me in a boyish tone. A lucky fellow, this one.

Abe Horowitz needs no introduction: Club owner, manager of a handful of singers and musicians. Connected. He mined gold when he discovered Baby Teegarten.

Job’s lips brush Baby’s lips. His voice comes soft, almost a soothing thing. “Me and Abe will be up at the bar—if you need us.”

It passes there in the space between them: his subtle caress of her cheek, her gentle squeeze of his hand. These two are infatuated with one another.

“Lord a-mercy, I love that boy,” she says, once we’re alone. “We got our tenth anniversary coming this summer.” She waves her right hand in my face. “He just got me this one right here.”

She means the full carat diamond set in white gold on her ring finger.

“What does it feel like to make more money than the president of the United States?” I ask, leading us into the interview.

Her petite shoulders give up a shrug. “Just means I can buy whatever I want—’Cept Jobie’s the one buys my jewelry. That boy makes nearly as much as me.”

She’s a tiny thing, maybe five foot two. I’m guessing it might take an extra big lunch to push her past a hundred pounds. And though she doesn’t mention it, this day is her twenty-third birthday.

I ask, “When did you first start singing?”

“Since I can recollect. Pastor Pritchett first had me up in front of the congregation when I was just five. That’s when I took to singing for other folks who ain’t just my kin.”

“Mississippi, right?”

Her head tips a short nod. “Down Rayford—up a piece from Biloxi.”

“A Delta girl, huh? You pick cotton down there?”

A silver cigarette case finds her hand. “Picked a bunch. Mister Kuiper used to pay me a dime for each sack I managed. I made a dollar a day most days.”

“Doesn’t sound like much.”

“It does to a little girl ain’t got much of nothin’.”

A Lucky Strike settles between her lips. Smoke rolls from her dainty nose.

Questions my editor suggested filter through the small talk. “You’re working a lot with George Gershwin. How’d that come about?”

“Georgie’s sweet,” she says, sending smoke rings chasing after her words. “His family knows Mister Horowitz’s family. He liked my voice and wrote some songs for me—’Cept I’m the one writes the words, since I’m the one has to sing ’em.”

Sales figures wedge their way into the conversation—nobody sells more phonograph records than Baby Teegarten.

“A million,” she offers. Says it as if she doesn’t really believe it herself. “I mean, a person can reach into his pocket, grab a hundred of something, and toss it on the floor and say, ‘Yep. That’s a hundred.’ But nobody can throw a million anything on the floor and count that.”

She’s had three of them reach that plateau in recent years.

“Where’s your favorite place to play?” I ask, scratching off another one from my editor.

“Paris is nice.” Her hand gives up an abbreviated wave, catching the barkeep’s attention. “What’s so amazing there is, those folks don’t speak no English, but they sure know all the words to my songs.”

A bottle arrives at our table. Not exactly what I expected.

“Co-cola,” she says, drawing a long pull. “Mister Horowitz don’t like for me to drink liquor while I’m gabbing with newspaper fellas. He says I just might talk too much.”

I feign shock. “Secrets?”

There’s an endearing sweetness in her giggle. “Oh, I got plenty of secrets.”

“Horowitz really looks after you, huh?”

“He’s the best. Like a second daddy. Doesn’t let anybody get close enough to take advantage.”

She spends a lot of time on the road, traveling by train, singing in places like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Big theaters, is where she sings these days. Gone are the smoke-filled clubs with dance floors and drunken revelers.

“I like the theaters,” she says. “And I really like seeing different places. But I do miss the New York clubs. I could do two shows a night and be at home with Mister Pritchett by one in the morning. Now, I do one show for five thousand people—nobody drinking or dancing—a night at a hotel, then up before the devil and off to the train station and the next city.”

There’s a weary tone creeping into her answers. Well, maybe weary isn’t the right word. Cautious, perhaps.

“Do you ever take time off? Maybe stay home for a while?”

She does—but only because the men in her life force her to do so.

“Once Mister Pritchett and Mister Horowitz get together, they’re worse than two fathers.”

Baby Teegarten will soon add actress to her resume. She just this week signed to play a role in a new James Cagney movie.

“It’s only a small part,” she explains. “I play a singer in a jazz club. I’ll sing two new songs they wrote just for the film.”

“Any lines?”

Just one. But that’s fine by her. “I ain’t no movie star.”

No, she’s not. But that doesn’t stop the real movie stars from turning out wherever Baby Teegarten treads a stage. It’s fashionable to be seen at her shows.

“Jean Harlow got my autograph last summer in Chicago.” She says it like it’s a normal thing that happens to most people.

“How’d you come to be friendly with Babe Ruth?”

That shrug raises her shoulders again. “He came to my shows most nights he was in town—back when I still played the clubs. Once he decided to buy a house in the country, I bought his apartment.”

“I guess that makes you a Yankees fan, huh?”

It’s a playful thing, that sideways glance she throws at me. “Ain’t no self-respecting Mississippi girl gonna ever cheer on no Yankees.”

Abe Horowitz’s approach signals a wrap to our discussion. I’d been promised twenty minutes, Baby gave me thirty.

“Gotta get ready for the trip to Hollywood,” she says, gaining her feet.

She offers a handshake, which abruptly becomes a friendly hug.

Job Pritchett, arm around Baby’s waist, sweeps the girl away, following Abe Horowitz out the front door, into the crowd moving along 7th Street.

It takes a few moments for my head to clear itself of her scent, her voice, her very presence. It’s not a difficult thing to see why so many have fallen for this lovely young woman.

“She just has a way about her,” the barkeep says as I make my getaway.

She certainly does, I tell myself. She certainly does.

Grab a copy of Jazz Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Believable Historical Fiction

Putting together a believable historical story, long or short, requires more than a plausible plot. You must pay extra attention to the little things, the details. While preparing to write my novel Jazz Baby, I consulted many sources for those authentic details. A high-school history book proved immensely helpful in creating the right mood for a story set in 1920s Southern USA.

Knowing the era is as important as knowing your characters. You can’t have a young girl in 1925 rural Mississippi (or any other place in 1925) making calls on a private-line rotary phone, much less a mobile phone she carries in her pocket. In fact, my character was poor, and thus would not even have access to any kind of phone even though they existed in her day. Besides, she wouldn’t have anybody to call. Thus:

 

  • KEEP DETAILS CHARACTER-SPECIFIC: Don’t just verify what exists in a period of time. Determine how widespread it is, and consider the likelihood your characters would have access in their particular places and circumstances.

Fashion is important, as well. Knowing what people wore in any particular era is key to verisimilitude. Emily Ann, the POV character in Jazz Baby, had no concept of tennis shoes or fashionable jeans, let alone modern name brands and today’s common designer styles. She did live in the era of flappers, but she would not be exposed to those outfits until she traveled to the big city. Still, would she dress that way—and why? Where would she get the clothes? Would she even know how to wear them properly? We have to consider these issues before deciding how to dress our characters from one scene to the next.

 

  • DETAILS SUCH AS FASHION ARE REGIONAL AND CIRCUMSTANTIAL: Lots of guides, many specifically for writers and media producers, show fashion of different eras, but you must pay close attention to where, when, why, and by whom clothing would be worn.

 

Sure, it’s obvious that Emily Ann wouldn’t see Gulfstream Jets flying overhead or hitch a ride in a Corvette, but you’re not always safe simply putting her in a Model T Ford. I wanted her to hear something important on the car radio while parked, but I dared not assume a radio could be found in the Model T. A bit of research, and I learned radio did not come into any automobiles until 1932. Most readers won’t know such a detail, but some sure will know, so for them the facade collapses beneath such inaccuracy. Keep it as airtight as possible.

 

  • DON’T ASSUME DETAILS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY: Don’t just research the technical detail. Verify all the details that flow from it. If a radio had been available in the 1925 Model T, verify how many and in which areas radios were sold. Don’t have her flipping through various stations late at night when maybe only one station operated in that region—and only during the daytime. If you want her to hear a news announcement, confirm that would happen on local radio back then.

Patient research shines a light on more facts than you might be looking for. Just as whether a car radio would have turning dials or push buttons, verifying might lead you to realize you can’t refer to an FM station back them. Would a character drop a letter in a street-corner mailbox, or did they not exist in small southern towns because people simply left mail in their roadside mailboxes for pickup?

 

  • RESEARCH ALL THE DETAILS: Don’t stop once you have your first question answered. Look closer, read more, find the photos—whatever it takes to get a strong sense of life in that time and place. You will very likely discover even more details you could get wrong without the extra effort.

Pay attention to language, as well. Slang changes from era to era, and from region to region. A young white girl in 1925 Mississippi will not greet her pals with a “Yo, dawg! ’Sup?”

 

  • WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE: As much as possible, read from the era and place, talk to people who lived through it, watch media showing the lifestyle, and consult as many sources as you can find. Not only are you verifying the authenticity of what you want characters to say, but you will likely discover very interesting and flavor-adding ways of talking that you had not considered.

Cultural norms are critical elements of authentic time and place. My story is set during Prohibition, which to many evokes images of either abstainers or scofflaws. However, “bonded liquor,” prescribed by doctors for “medicinal purposes” and sold by pharmacists, was quite popular in many areas, albeit under watchful government eyes. Cultural changes that older readers recognize might not be so familiar to younger readers. In Emily Ann’s world, African Americans were prohibited from patronizing restaurants, and segregated in places like theaters, restrooms, and even from whites-only drinking fountains. Emily’s fraternization with blacks could have cost her her life.

 

  • STUDY THE CULTURAL NORMS: Learn about how people felt, thought, and acted, and consider the true consequences of your characters’ actions in those contexts.

Behavior often is not best described by laws. Though women received the vote in 1920, many were still viewed as the property of fathers and husbands. For a girl who found herself orphaned at 13, the official social-services response rarely happened if kinfolk might be able to “handle the situation.” Thus, Aunt Frannie arranging a marriage that we might find outrageous today would have been applauded as admirably expedient back then. Likewise, looking up the official 1969 USA drug laws would not offer much help in deciding how your young-adult characters actually acted during a campus party.

 

  • OFFICIAL POLICY OFTEN DOES NOT INDICATE HOW PEOPLE REALLY ACT: Look beyond laws, policies, procedures, and other official records of how things were supposed to be in another time and place. Ferret out real accounts and weigh your characters’ actions against what really tended to happen.

 

The point of all this is simply to remind you to check your facts while looking beyond the facts, stay loyal to the era you choose, and wow us all with your brilliant stories.

 

Grab a copy of Jazz Baby in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, Nook, or iBook.

More writers’ resources: GeezWriter.com

 

The Taxing Process of Writing!

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Today I am sharing space here with indie author and publisher Traci Sanders. Traci has written a fantastic new series that will help even the seasoned pro write it better. Here, in her own words, is Ms. Sanders…

MY 3 BOOKS

Tip 358: What you can “write off” as an author

(tax deductions)

*This tip can be found in Living The Write Life: Tips on making the most of your writing skills, now available in digital and paperback format.
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Are you an Indie author? If so, you are a contractor, whether you like it or not. Regardless which company you publish with, you will be required to answer a few basic questions to set up your tax account with them. When you sell any books, they need to know how and where to send your money.
Therefore, no matter how much (or how little) money you make on your books, you must claim it, because the publishing companies do.
 
The good news is, you also have tax deductions available.
 
Here is a list of deductions you can claim as an author:
         Office supplies
         Telephone/internet fees
         Cabs, subways, bus fares
         Book, magazines, reference material
         Agents’ commissions (if included in income)
         Film and processing – book trailer fees
         Copying – brochures, flyers for events
         Editorial fees – costs to hire professional editors
         Promotional fees – advertising materials
         Office rent – If you use a dedicated space for your writing – cannot claim for two businesses at once
         Utilities – a percentage for your writing (dedicated) space
         Memberships (professional organizations) – book club fees, writing organizations
         Messengers, private mail carriers, postage – shipping costs for giveaways, etc.
         Business insurance
         Tax preparation fees
         Travel costs – for out of town events – conferences, signings, etc.
         Business meals and entertainment
         Equipment – rentals of video/audio equipment for events
         Software – writing/editing/illustration software
         Legal and professional fees – patent lawyer, copyright lawyer
         I actually claim the books I buy and read because I consider them “study material” for my craft, especially those in my genre.
         As a public figure, for instance, when you do book signings and other events, you must have a professional appearance; therefore, you can write off your salon costs, new clothes, and even the food you serve at the event. Just be sure to keep the receipts and make notes on them.
         If you are at lunch and you pass out a business card or book to someone, write off that lunch by writing the person’s name and the book you talked about at what became your “business luncheon.”
         Treating your writing business like a professional entity will help you save money and avoid tax audits in the process, especially if you are like me and operate a separate business at the same time. The deductions must be kept separate.
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Here are a couple add-ons to this tip, shared by Stephen Geez:
 
Research can be an important expense to track. That 250-word essay I’ll be writing about what it’s like to spend a month scuba diving in the Caymen Islands is definitely going to require some hands-on research…
 
Just thought of another point that used to be very useful: If you’re writing for a client, an assignment, an intended buy, or even if you eventually sell to a client, you might be surprised by how much the end-user will be willing to reimburse expenses that s/he can write off. Don’t leave that money unclaimed if a bit of assertiveness might compensate you. You could find that the combo of reimbursement and your own write-offs can cover 100% of the income.
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Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. 

An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

Giveaway!

I’ve decided to give away two prizes during this tour:
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Before You Publish – Volume I 
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Beyond The Book – Volume II 
To enter, all you have to do is email me a proof of purchase of a digital copy of either of these two books during the tour.
I will draw TWO winners total, at the end of the tour.
Please email your proof of purchase (can be a screenshot) to tsanderspublishing@yahoo.com.
GOOD LUCK!

Bonus: Video Tip!

Writers: Don’t Get Lost in the Traffic!

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Wrote a great book, did you? Looking for ways to reach readers, are you? Well, have I got the place for you. It’s called RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! Yep! I’ve been telling you all about it for the past three-plus years.

And just what exactly is RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB? I’m glad you asked. RRBC is an online community of readers and writers whose sole goal is to support one another. Members buy, read, and review fellow members books. It’s what we do.

But wait!!! There’s more!!!

Book Club Badge Suggestion copy (1)

By joining the RRBC community, you will have your book(s) placed in the club’s online catalog, making it available to the entire membership (currently at just under 400). Those who choose to be supportive of fellow members will discover the perks of membership. Books of the Month? We select three titles and promote them on Twitter, blogs, and Facebook each and every month. Many club members purchase these titles and review them.

Spotlight Author? Well, let me explain it to you. When chosen to stand in the spotlight, the author embarks on a month-long journey that includes wicked Twitter support, a blog tour, a seat on the shelf with club President Nonnie Jules (chit-chatting about you and your book), and a live interview on one of the RRBC Blog Talk Radio programs.

Look, most of us here are writers. We understand the marketing struggles indie authors face in today’s world. RRBC is meant to be a tool for the writer. But it requires more than just signing up. Support is vital. Those who don’t support, well, they receive little support themselves. It is through support that members become familiar with the names of fellow members. Marketing, branding — this is a foothold, an opportunity to meet other authors who also happen to be readers. This is the writer’s chance to build a foundation on which to establish their work.

If it sounds like something you may be interested in, stop by the RRBC site and have a look around. It only costs $25 per year (though it’s just $20 for those who join before 11:59 pm CT 2/22/17).

Click here to visit the RRBC SITE!

Peggy Hattendorf: Author & RWISA Member!

Greetings and welcome to The Indie Spot. It is my privilege and honor to introduce to you author and RWISA member Peggy Hattendorf — in her own words! Take it away, Peggy…

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The Interview

1) How long have you been writing?

My professional writing started in the mid-1970’s, when I created volunteer and staff handbooks for a number of agencies in the non-profit field.

I entertained the idea of writing a novel about 10 years ago but purposely shelved the plan for nearly two years due to other commitments. The notion of writing fiction still gnawed at me and I would jot down potential characters, ideas and storylines during this hiatus. When I finally dusted off my old notes, scribbles and research and read over the material, I realized I had the makings for a good story. With new found enthusiasm, I set about writing my first novel. My background with upscale and luxury travel products served a cornerstones in the character development and storyline.

2) How many books have you authored?
At present, I have one novel Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty.

3) Do you have a writing schedule?

Yes. Currently I am working on my second book in the family dynasty series. This one still focuses on the wealthy Barrington family, and I utilize some of my travel destination research for the magazine to add new locations and settings for the book.

4) You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?

I was honored and humbled to have been selected by personal invitation from Nonnie as one of the first 10 people to join RWISA. I believe I was invited into this organization because I am a strong and focused writer with a distinct voice and style. I take writing very seriously and continue to strive to be the best in all I produce. With my debut novel, I’ve been able to create a captivating story with well defined characters in exquisite settings and locations; appropriately interrupting the narrative with savvy and funny dialogue while maintaining suspense with plot twists and turns to keep the reader engaged until the very end.

5) Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?

I am a serious writer who continues to advance my professional endeavors, hone my skills and strive for excellence. I write with passion and want to translate that deep purpose to the reader. As a character driven writer, I use that passion to create a compelling and richly developed cast. I write in my head and start assembling this small grouping around a central theme and the storyline develops. I use logic, structure and organization in developing clear ideas and how to express them in a solid story. I’m grounded in data, research and fact-checking for credibility and authenticity. For example, in certain instances, it’s more appropriate for character and life-style to use more formal language in dialogue. I deliver a readable story with good content, a strong storyline, an intriguing plot, crackling dialogue from well crafted characters presented in elegant settings around the world.

6) If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?

I was fortunate years ago to have had this experience. My husband and I had dinner with the late Allen Reed Folsom and his wife Karen at their home in Malibu. He was a screenwriter for years but his big break came with his thriller, The Day After Tomorrow, about a Neo-Nazi cult. We were with them shortly after he sold this debut novel in 1993 for $2 million dollars, a record at that time. As elated as he was to have sold his novel, he said it took him decades to get to that point. He was diligently working on his second book at the time of our visit. Had I known then, I would someday venture into this whelm, I would have been armed with a list of questions to ask him over dinner.

There is another author, Patricia Cornwall that I would find most interesting to involve in conversation. She is a seasoned serial writer and I am writing my second book in my family dynasty series. Her Scarpetta Series is one of my favorites as she uses a strong female lead, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner by training. I too have a strong female lead, also a career woman, Christiana Lynn Barrington. If I could “pick” Ms. Cornwall’s brain, I would inquire as to how she keeps a series “fresh” and interesting writing a total of 35 books in 27 years. As she also writes children’s books and cookbooks, I would be curious as to what prompted her move into other genres. In addition, I would ask if she found her work as a journalist an asset in writing fiction.

7) Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?

I do love being an INDIE writer and am not looking for outside representation. But with that said, if I was offered a publishing contract today, from a recognized publishing house, it would warrant my time and attention to understand the facts and terms of the contract. My desire is to have Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty adapted into a television movie or mini-series and that might be one of the major advantages of having an agent.

8) As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to have the third and final book in my family dynasty series complete. In so doing, this will require more travel for my inspirations, settings and research.

9) What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?

I joined a very supportive network – Rave Reviews Book Club. I would tell any new author to commence the overall marketing process well before completion of the book and go online and immediately join Rave Reviews Book Club.

10) Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?

I would suggest Rebecca Reilly. I believe she is a gifted writer as demonstrated in her book Haunting Megan.

11) What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?

Enjoy each and every step of this “creative journey” and don’t be in a rush to publish.

12) Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?

There are certainly a number of prominent authors who publish several books per year to satisfy contractual terms of their publishers and keep their readership engaged through new releases. Some writers are co-authoring books possibly to keep ahead of the competition. It is hard to place a chronological time period on quality work. I believe each body of work should be judged on the quality alone without regard to the amount of time it took to produce the manuscript.

13) If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?

I would absolutely halt the release date if the book was not deemed ready for publication. At the same time, I would issue a statement that the release date had to be pushed back and add the new publication date to keep up the interest from my fan and readership base. In the interim, I would continue to have contact with my readership via blogs etc.

14) In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”

In my opinion, a “great book” is based on a number of key elements and I use the broad categories of fiction and non-fiction works. For a fiction book, I look for the following: *interesting storyline, * intriguing plot, * proper pace and flow, * well-defined characters, *crisp dialogue and * above all it must be a readable story! In a non-fiction book you also need an interesting storyline and proper pace and flow. Moreover, a non-fiction book must: * present an engaging topic, subject or person, * deliver insight or knowledge – possibly not known prior to reading the book and * be well researched with verifiable data and first-hand documentation, if possible. No matter the type of book or genre, it must be well written and hold the reader’s attention.

15) If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?

I take my writing career very seriously and strive to deliver quality and excellence in all my work. Unfortunately, some editing issues have been brought to my attention and I have engaged Nonnie Jules and her team at 4Wills Publishing to address the items not identified and corrected by the former contracted editors.

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The Importance of your Author Brand and Reputation

By Peggy Hattendorf

Improper branding or a tarnished reputation can sink your career.

Proper messaging and a solid reputation, on the other hand, add both tangible and intangible benefits. A recognized brand is a strategic tool and important business asset which can determine your success as an author – as much as quality or price. Branding is imperative to commercializing your business, advancing product exposure and leading to increased demand for your books and products.

The American Marketing Association defines brand as, “a name, term, sign, symbol or combination of these, intended to identify the goods and services of the seller and to differentiate it from competitors.”  Branding is all activities that raise awareness for your business and helps shape consumers’ perceptions, awareness, associations and loyalty.

Professional reputation is defined as the “public” opinion about your business determined in part by the image and quality of products and services and further conditioned by consumer understanding, knowledge and intuition.  A “good” reputation helps build brand loyalty. The terms brand and reputation are interrelated and sometimes a strong brand image can combat some reputation issues.

Branding:

  • Improves recognition.
  • Assists in promotion of products/books/services.
  • Attributes quality, value and reliability.
  • Associates an image – “luxury” or “mass-market” as examples.
  • Creates trust, credibility, legitimacy and loyalty.
  • Supports advertising.
  • Differentiates from the competition.
  • Generates customer sales.
  • Builds financial value and resources.

Reputation:

  • Defines public beliefs or opinions generally held about a person or business.
  • Harder to build than to destroy.
  • Requires effort, patience and time to build.
  • Needs consistency and constant attention.
  • Represents your value in the marketplace.

The establishment of a solid brand, positive image and a good reputation are key elements for creating success in the literary world.

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Social Media

Twitter handler – @peggyhattendorf

Facebook – www.facebook.com/peggy.hattendorf

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Web Site/Blog

Website/blog – www.peggyhattendorf.com

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Thank you for supporting our RWISA (RAVE WRITERS-INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Members!  Please follow and support the entire tour by visiting 4WillsPub.

 

Writing the (Almost) Perfect Book Review

Today we will take a look at what goes into writing the (almost) perfect book review. Nothing is ever really perfect, but those imperfections should never be an excuse for being unprofessional or rude.

Okay, so you’re new to the fine art of writing book reviews. Maybe you’re not quite sure how to go about sharing that incredible (or terrible) story you just finished reading (or couldn’t force yourself to read the entire thing). The hope here is that perhaps we can shed some light on approaching the task—regardless of your feelings toward the book in question.

Book reviews are opinions and nothing else. But these are valued opinions (when done correctly) that can guide readers to—or away from—an author’s hard work. Opinions will always vary when it comes to books, movies, restaurants, or anything else that is often the target of reviews. I may not have enjoyed the mashed potatoes at Cracker Barrel, but those same spuds may stir recollections of Granny’s home-cooked Sunday dinners from way back in another patron. So does that make my opinion any greater than another’s? Not a chance. My opinion is just an option for those reading reviews of dinner choices at the local Cracker Barrel.

But this presentation isn’t about culinary creativity. We’re here to discuss books and the reviews we seek to write. I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and dozens of concert and record album reviews. Book reviews (and movie reviews) are a different breed from other write-ups in that there are certain things of which you need to be aware when sharing your thoughts on the latest novel you’ve read.

The first (and most important) item to remember is: NO SPOILERS! Not even with a “spoiler alert” attached to the front end of your review. If there’s a twist at the end of the story that really blew your mind, then please allow the next mind to be equally blown. I hate it when such things are divulged—even with a warning. I may choose to not read beyond the warning, but that doesn’t mean a friend will stop at that point. This friend then decides to bring up the twist as I’m mentioning the new book I just added to my Kindle.

I call to mind the first time I saw the movie The Others. I hadn’t even heard of this film prior to my viewing it one lazy afternoon. I remember thinking that the film trotted along at a rather slow pace—so much so that I nearly turned the channel. I’m glad I didn’t. As the film progressed, I became even more invested. And as it reached its conclusion, POW! I honestly did not see that twist coming. And thankfully, I was able to be floored by the brilliance of the writing and the acting because nobody spoiled it for me.

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I’ve read the novel Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock. This wonderful story contains a twist at the end that spins the entire story into a whole new perspective from the one through which I’d viewed it right up to the final two chapters. Good writers will do these things. Good reviewers will leave those things hidden, allowing the next readers to discover those gems for themselves. So please leave the spoiler alerts out of your reviews.

The next thing to keep in mind is: DITCH THE PLAY-BY-PLAY! A review is never meant to be an outline spilling plot details. Neither is it supposed to be a road map through the story. If I can gather most of what’s going on between those book covers from your review, what reason do I have in investing money and time in reading it for myself? This only serves to cheat the reader out of a good read, and it snuffs out a sale for the author.

A well-written review will give us just a taste of the plot, a glimpse into the lives of the characters, and offer opinions on whether or not the author has what it takes to tell a fine story. It should be a critique of story and style.

This leads us to another very important point: ATTACKING CONTENT MISSES THE MARK! Okay, so what exactly am I talking about? Saying you didn’t like the story in question because the girl was raped or a child died says more about the reviewer than it says about the book. If we’re voracious readers, we’ll eventually run into a story that may, at points, make us feel uncomfortable. My skin was crawling at times while reading The End of Alice by A. M. Homes. It’s a dark read, this story. But Miss Homes is one of my favorite writers. Her stories are vivid with living characters. She, as a writer, is skilled at yanking the reader from his or her comfort zone. The best writers are able to do these things without a second thought.

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The End of Alice is a bestseller. I mention this only because, as such, there are quite a few reviews for this work. The titles of some of those reviews posted on Amazon are rather telling. Beautifully Disturbing; Disgusting, But Impossible to Forget; Fascinating, Frustrating and Disappointing—but Unforgettable. Most opinions of this book award four and five stars—even though many of these reviewers found the story quite disturbing. Then there are those who simply attack the content and do all they can to steer potential readers away from this work.

Did the writing captivate you? Are the characters believable? What sort of emotions did you experience while reading? Did the author pull you out of your comfort zone? Is it a well-written story without punctuation or spelling errors? Did you care about the characters or were they worthy of being hated? These are the sorts of questions we should ponder while determining our opinions of the works of others.

Not all reviews warrant four and five stars. But that’s not license to attack an author’s work either. An honest review should be constructive in its criticism, not destructive. Social media is rife with mean and nasty comments that are designed to tear down rather than build up. Take into consideration the author may learn something from your review, and thus become a better writer because of you! Be honest, be tactful, be kind—even if it’s a 1, 2, or 3 star review. If you don’t like a particular story, explain the reasons behind your opinion.

As reviews coordinator for RRBC, I’ve heard from members who found issues with books they’ve read. They tell me they feel guilty writing a one or two star review. Well, if that’s their honest opinion, then that’s what they should award. I challenge them to offer the author—as well as potential future readers—an explanation on why they arrived at this rating. Are there punctuation problems? Plot holes? Is the story just too unbelievable? Share these details—but do so in a way that teaches. Be encouraging rather than discouraging.

And finally, when posting your reviews, be sure to proofread before sharing with the world via Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Nothing is quite as ridiculous as a critique of another’s work in a review filled with misspellings, missing or poor punctuation, and sentences that make little or no sense at all. If need be, allow another pair of eyes to do the proofreading for you—before you hit the post button. Your words represent you as a writer—whether they’re reviews, blog articles, essays, or novels. Always strive to make a strong impression. And remember, writing reviews is another way to make connections in the indie author world. If you’re needlessly harsh in your criticisms, that’s a reflection on you.

 

Concordant Vibrancy 3 Cover Reveal!

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Hello!

Thanks for visiting.

In celebrating a new tradition, All Authors Publications and Promotions is rejoicing in the forthcoming release of the 3rd Annual installment of “Concordant Vibrancy”.

First there was “Concordant Vibrancy: Unity”, the first book in this multi-genre anthology collections.

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Then there was “Concordant Vibrancy 2: Vitality”, the second book in this unique series.

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water-splash-dividerToday, we celebrate the Cover Reveal of “Concordant Vibrancy 3: Lustrate”.

borderFirst a little about the book …

The Blurb

What embodies the composition of fluidity?

This is the query of the third installment of the Concordant Vibrancy collection, presented by All Authors Publications & Promotions, entitled “Lustrate”.

Nine incredible writers unite—through a combination of poetry, essays, and short stories—to produce unique responses flowing with vitality.

Works include:

“Unsui” by Harmony Kent
“Exiled” by Carol Cassada
“The Satiationship” by Synful Desire
“Twin Planets” by Y. Correa
“Threes” by Queen of Spades
“Luster Lingers” by Adonis Mann
“The Boo Thang Convention” by C. Desert Rose
“Overcome (Holy Water)” by Beem Weeks
and
“The Bunny” by Da’Kharta Rising

Now, without further ado, All Authors Publications & Promotions presents you, our precious readers, writers and precious patrons with the cover of the upcoming “Concordant Vibrancy 3: Lustrate”.

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Learn …

What embodies the composition of fluidity?